A California imam is under fire this past week after he prayed during a sermon in front of a Muslim congregation for the “annihilation” of Jews.
The imam, Sheikh Ammar Shahin, highlighted the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jersualem, which has been at the center of a standoff between Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshippers after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the installation of metal detectors at the mosque. The move was implemented after two Israeli police officers were gunned down at the entrance of the holy site.
During Shahin’s sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis across the street of University of California-Davis, he prayed to God for the worst to come for the Jewish people.
“Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews,” Shahin said. “Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, show us the black day that you inflict upon them, and the wonders of your ability. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.”
Shahin continued citing the Hadith, which are writings of the alleged sayings and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, “Allah does not change the situation of people until they change their own situation. The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews.'”
Many of these comments were lifted from an almost hour long sermon delivered on YouTube that were picked up by the pro-Israeli site, MEMRI. And while the imam denies his comments were anti-Semitic and taken out of context, it’s time that Muslims abandon this type of politically driven rhetoric and speak out against it when we hear it in our mosques.
In almost 30 years of attending mosques and masjids to listen to Jummah khutbahs (Friday sermons) before the weekly prayer, I’ve heard my fair share of imams delivering talking points on politics both domestically and internationally. It’s grown tiresome that religious leaders are injecting their personal politics into the sanctity of the mosque has incidentally become a representative for that community and for Muslims, as a whole.
Whether you agree or disagree with the actions and policies of the Israeli government, conflating the actions of the state with the people it represents is misguided at best and malicious at its worst. Taking a side on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not integral to being a good person or a devout Muslim. There are Muslims from the ideological spectrum who believe that Israel has the right to exist and have the right to defend themselves to those who want the complete destruction and annihilation of the Jewish people and the state.
Shahin’s words are vile, overtly hateful, and disparaging of an entire religion of people. It’s the type of rhetoric people like Shahin claim President Trump is using to debase Muslims. Fighting anti-Muslim sentiment while contributing to anti-Semitism isn’t getting the American Muslim community anywhere. It’s time to put an end to mixing politics with religion. It’s only fueling the fire of hate and polarization that we see far too often in this world.
Watch the full sermon below: